Maxed out 

Where we came from to get here

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Okay, it's party time in Tiny Town. Welcome to the Olympics, each and every one of you. It's good to see all of you who've been here before and for those of you who are visiting Whistler for the first time I'd like to take this opportunity to ask, "What gives?" Jeez, we have to put on the freakin' Olympics to get you here? Talk about hard to please.

But regardless of how hard you are to please, we've done what we had to do to lure you here. After all, hosting the Olympics is why Whistler was built in the first place. No, really. Way back in 1960, a group of Vancouver businessmen were hanging out, drinking beer and watching the Winter Games in Squaw Valley - since renamed Native American, First Nations Woman Valley - when one of them said, "Hey, why don't we host the Winter Olympics."

The others, not believing their ears, said, "He's cut off," to the bartender, who was about to stand them to another round. Undeterred, the romantic fool whipped out a cocktail napkin - the '60s version of PowerPoint - and sketched out a strategy for holding the Olympics in Vancouver.

There was only one flaw in the vision quickly taking shape. While Vancouver is blessed with a thriving harbour and lovely mountains, it is not visited by what Real Canadians proudly call winter. I believe the current conditions on Cypress speak forcefully to that point and those of you with a keen grasp of history may remember the 1960s were a time before freestyle, snowboarding and anything-cross, a time when alpine events required real snow.

"Okay, so we'll find another mountain to hold the skiing events on," said the dreamer. "It's not like we have to go very far to find mountains around here." More prescient words were never spoken. With only enough money left over for a single tank of gas in a single-engine Cessna, the search was on. Whistler Mountain - then named London Mountain - was found, the group landed safely back in Vancouver and the rest is history.

While the history of the town of Whistler is both brief and contemporary, there are militant members of the museum board who would beat me with ski poles if I failed to pay homage to all that came before, what those of us with short-term memory problems like to refer to as The Before Time. Therefore, a brief history to placate them is in order.

In the beginning there was a single land mass called Pangea. While it's not impossible to locate Whistler on a map of Pangea, it is pointless. With the exception of tectonic forces, continental drift, dinosaurs and the fracturing of Pangea into what we like to think of today as continents, nothing much happened for the next 250 million years. So we'll just skip that part. It won't be on the test.

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